Drive for Detroit: Week 4 Preview

September 14, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This is the time of year, every year, when we begin to notice the start of separation among the fast starters and truly elite teams in Michigan high school football.

There are 122 teams (of 617 total) without a loss as the regular season creeps toward the midway point. And that number will go down by at least a few this weekend as a number of league races also take a turn with undefeated contenders facing off.

This week’s Drive for Detroit preview powered by MI Student Aid features three of those matchups and mentions a half-dozen more. Remember to stay with us Friday night and into Saturday for scores as they come in on the MHSAA Score Center, and click on teams off that page for updated standings and playoff points. MHSAA.tv will broadcast nine games across both peninsulas this weekend – click here for the schedule. All games below will be played Friday.

Bay & Thumb

Linden (3-0) at Fenton (3-0)

Fenton has claimed outright Flint Metro League titles by defeating Linden in the regular-season finale the last three seasons – wins by the Eagles in 2014 and 2016 would’ve meant a shared championship – but this fall the meeting comes in the heart of the league schedule. Linden has handed lone losses this season to both Flushing and Holly, and Fenton did the same to Ortonville Brandon – giving this the feeling of a few-weeks-early championship game again.

Others that caught my eye: Lake Fenton (2-1) at Goodrich (3-0), Marysville (2-1) at Marine City (3-0), Freeland (3-0) at Saginaw Swan Valley (2-1), Houghton Lake (2-1) at Beaverton (3-0).

Greater Detroit

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (3-0) at Dearborn Divine Child (3-0)

Cranbrook Kingswood has experienced an upswing in football since longtime Detroit Country Day coach Joe D’Angelo took over in 2013. Coming off three straight playoff seasons, the Cranes have opened by outscoring their first three opponents by a combined 114-7 – and two of those teams also made the playoffs last fall. Divine Child has been similarly strong against a similar group of teams and has Big Ten-committed prospects on both sides of the ball (QB/S Theo Day – Michigan State, DE/TE Aidan Hutchinson – Michigan) as it continues to build of last season’s Division 3 Semifinal run.

Others that caught my eye: Warren Mott (3-0) at Macomb Dakota (2-1), Detroit Central (2-1) at Detroit Renaissance (3-0), Clarkston (3-0) at West Bloomfield (1-2), Waterford Mott (2-1) at Walled Lake Western (3-0).

Mid-Michigan

Grand Ledge (2-1) at Lansing Sexton (3-0)

Grand Ledge and DeWitt were considered the unquestioned elite in the Lansing area heading into this season. Then the Panthers downed the Comets 14-7 in Week 2 to rise to the top of the list. But Sexton is building a solid argument as well giving up only 21 points so far and after handing Portland its first regular-season loss since 2014. Another victory tonight would put the Big Reds firmly in the discussion; the winner regardless will take a significant step toward the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title.

Others that caught my eye: Vermontville Maple Valley (3-0) at Lake Odessa Lakewood (3-0), Lansing Catholic (3-0) at Williamston (2-1), Perry (2-1) at Olivet (3-0), Fulton (2-1) at Fowler (2-1).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Lincoln Alcona (3-0) at AuGres-Sims (3-0)

It’s hard to remember that 11-year span at the start of this century when Alcona didn’t make the playoffs once; the Tigers have qualified four of the last five seasons and are well on their way again with two wins this fall over playoff teams from a year ago. AuGres-Sims started what it hopes is a similar bounce-back going 7-3 last year despite falling to Alcona 58-20. If like opponents mean anything – they have two so far in 2017 – tonight’s game should be a lot closer than that last meeting and could end up deciding the North Star League title.

Others that caught my eye: Whittemore-Prescott (2-1) at Gaylord St. Mary (3-0), Evart (2-1) at McBain (2-1), Johannesburg-Lewiston (2-1) at Charlevoix (1-2), Kalkaska (3-0) at Elk Rapids (2-1).

Southeast & Border

Ypsilanti Community (2-1) at Adrian (2-1)

Once an annual power, we didn’t talk about Adrian for a few seasons until the Maples ended a string of four sub-.500 finishes by winning a District title last fall. They fell in an odd one, 11-7, last weekend after the power went out Friday and they had to resume Sunday morning. Ypsilanti Community also fell last week, to Pinckney, but has equaled last season’s win total and shut out Tecumseh on opening night.

Others that caught my eye: Dundee (2-1) at Hudson (3-0), Brooklyn Columbia Central (2-1) at Ida (3-0), Chelsea (2-1) at Tecumseh (2-1), Addison (3-0) at Napoleon (2-1)

Southwest Corridor

Stevensville Lakeshore (3-0) at St. Joseph (3-0)

Last week Lakeshore/Portage Central was the big game in the southwest part of the state, and following a 24-7 win the Lancers are headlining again as they face their other annual main competition in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West. Lakeshore has beaten St. Joseph in four straight. But the Bears have been tough defensively and can rely on running back Ryan Haynes, who has piled up more than 400 yards on the ground.

Others that caught my eye: Union City (3-0) at Quincy (3-0), Dowagiac (2-1) at Edwardsburg (3-0), Traverse City Central (2-1) at Portage Central (2-1), St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic (3-0) at Parchment (2-1).

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming Westwood (3-0) at Gladstone (3-0)

Like Lakeshore above, Westwood finds itself in the top spot for as second straight week after downing previously undefeated L’Anse 38-10 to eclipse its win total from a year ago. The Patriots also handed Munising its lone loss this season, but the toughest competition so far should come from Gladstone – which switched to the Mid-Peninsula Conference this season after battling the biggest in the U.P. in the Great Northern Conference for more than two decades. Last week’s 43-0 win over Negaunee gave the Braves as many wins as they had all of last season and as many as they’ve had in any season since 2010.

Others that caught my eye: Marquette (1-2) at Escanaba (2-1), Munising (2-1) at Newberry (2-1), Gwinn (2-1) at Norway (3-0), Hancock (3-0) at L'Anse (2-1).

West Michigan

Muskegon (3-0) at Byron Center (3-0)

The Grand Rapids and Muskegon areas are loaded with outstanding matchups this weekend – see the others mentioned below – but this gets top billing because of Byron Center’s opportunity. Muskegon is a state power and came within minutes of winning the Division 3 title last year. But the Bulldogs finished 10-2 – earning their most wins since 2000 – with both losses to the Big Reds, in Week 4 and again in a Division 3 Regional Final.

Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids Christian (3-0) at Grand Rapids South Christian (3-0), Zeeland East (3-0) at Holland (3-0), Whitehall (2-1) at Muskegon Oakridge (3-0), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (3-0) at Muskegon Mona Shores (3-0).

8-Player

Bellevue (3-0) at Portland St. Patrick (3-0)

The Broncos moved into 8-player this season coming off two straight 3-5 finishes and one win in 2014. So far, it’s a perfect fit. Bellevue’s start has been nearly perfect defensively – it’s outscored its first three opponents by a combined 146-6. St. Patrick has a lot more experience in the 8-player format – the Shamrocks twice have come within a win or two of the MHSAA championship game since making the move in 2012. They’re coming off a 38-22 win over rival Webberville, which Bellevue beat 40-6 on opening night.

Others that caught my eye: Ontonagon (2-0) at Rapid River (3-0), Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (2-1) at Onekama (3-0), Deckerville (3-0) at Kingston (2-1), New Haven Merritt (2-1) at Bay City All Saints (2-1).

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid. 

PHOTO: Grand Ledge quarterback Nolan Bird targets a receiver during his team’s 14-7 loss to DeWitt in Week 2. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

Lawrence's Schuman Sets Example for Well-Rounded Success

By Pam Shebest
Special for MHSAA.com

December 14, 2022

LAWRENCE — If redshirting was a thing in high school, at least two coaches at Lawrence would stick that label on senior John Schuman.

Southwest Corridor“We don’t want to lose this kid ever,” said Derek Gribler, the Tigers’ first-year varsity football and baseball coach.

“If we could put a red shirt on this kid every year, we would.”

Athletic director John Guillean, who also coaches varsity basketball, agreed.

“He is what we strive to have all our student-athletes achieve: high GPAs, multi-sport athletes, good, overall well-rounded human beings,” Guillean said.

Schuman has participated in five of the seven boys sports Lawrence sponsors.

As a freshman and sophomore, Schuman played football, wrestled, ran track and played baseball.

He had wrestled since he was 4, and went from the 119-pound weight class as a freshman to 145 the following year. That sophomore season he qualified for his Individual Regional. But as a junior, he traded wrestling for basketball.

“My older brother wrestled at Lawrence, so I would come to practices,” he said. “I quit for a couple years (in middle school) because I liked basketball, too. It was hard to do both. Obviously, in high school, I still struggled with choosing,” he added, laughing.

John GuilleanGuillean is thrilled Schuman made the switch.

“He’s 6-(foot-)4, he’s super athletic, defensively he’s a hawk, offensively he can put the ball in the bucket. But really, aside from his skills, just that positive attitude and that positive outlook, not just in a game, but in life in general, is invaluable,” the coach said.

Last season, Schuman earned honorable mention all-league honors in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference, averaging 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

Lawrence left the BCS for the Southwest 10 Conference this year, joining Bangor, Bloomingdale, Hartford, Decatur, Comstock, Marcellus, Mendon, Centreville, White Pigeon and Cassopolis. Schuman and senior Tim Coombs will co-captain the Tigers, with Guillean rotating in a third captain.

At a school of fewer than 200 students, Schuman will help lead a varsity team with just nine – joined by seniors Andy Bowen and Gabe Gonzalez, juniors Christian Smith, Noel Saldana, Ben McCaw and Zander Payment, and sophomore Jose Hernandez, who will see time with the junior varsity as well using the fifth-quarter rule.

“I attribute a lot of (last year’s successful transition) to my coach, helping me get ready because it wasn’t so pretty,” the senior said. “But we got into it, got going, and my teammates helped me out a lot.”

Great anticipation

Gribler is one coach already looking ahead to spring sports after seeing what Schuman did during football season.

In spite of missing 2½ games with an injury, the wide receiver caught 50 receptions for 870 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“I just like the ability to run free, get to hit people, let out some anger,” Schuman laughed.

Derek GriblerGribler said the senior is “an insane athlete.

“On top of his athletic ability, how smart he is in the classroom (3.88 GPA), he helped mold the culture we wanted this year for football. He got our underclassmen the way we wanted them. He was a big asset in many ways.”

Schuman earned all-conference honors for his on-field performance in football as well.

“I would say that my main sport is football,” the senior said. “That’s the one I like the most, spend the most time on.”

In the spring, Schuman competed in both track and baseball, earning all-conference honors in both.

“Doing both is tough,” he said. “I have to say my coaches make it a lot easier for me. They help me a lot and give me the ability to do both, so I really appreciate that.

“Throughout the week you’re traveling every day, it seems like. Baseball twice a week and track, but it’s worth it.”

Schuman’s commitment is so strong that he made a special effort not to let his teammates down last spring.

“He qualified for state in the long jump and did his jumps up in Grand Rapids, then he drove all the way to Kalamazoo to play in the District baseball game,” Guillean said. “That speaks volumes about who this kid is. He did his jumps at 9 a.m. (but did not advance) and made it back to Kalamazoo for a 12:15 game.”

Big shoes to fill

As the youngest of four children of Mark and Gretchen Schuman, the senior was following a family tradition in sports.

Oldest brother Matthew played football, basketball and baseball as well as competed in pole vault and wrestling.

Middle bother Christopher competed in football, wrestling and baseball.

Sister Stephanie played basketball, volleyball and softball.

“I like to say they blazed a pretty good trail for me at this high school,” Schuman said.

As for feeling pressure to live up to his siblings, “I used to when I was younger, but now I feel like I’ve made my own way and done enough things to be proud of that I’m happy with it.”

His own way led him to achieve something none of the others did.

He was named the Tigers’ Male Athlete of the Year, just the third junior to earn the boys honor over the last 25 years.

“I was very honored to win that as a junior,” Schuman said. “There were good athletes in the grade above me. I guess hard work pays off.”

Guillean said while Schuman is “darn good at every sport here,” an athlete does not have to be a “top dog” in every sport.

“Learn how to take a back seat,” he said. “Learn how to be a role player. That will make you a better teammate and a well-rounded human being.

“Johnny has that work ethic, in the classroom, on the field, on the court, on the track. It doesn’t go unnoticed and, obviously, he’s reaping the benefits now.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at pamkzoo@aol.com with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence’s John Schuman has participated in five varsity sports during his first 3½ years of high school. (Middle) Lawrence athletic director John Guillean. (Below) Lawrence football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (Action photos courtesy of John Schuman; head shots by Pam Shebest.)